PKL 2019, Season Review: Haryana Steelers | Did the Steelers peak too early?
The state of Haryana has traditionally been the powerhouse of Indian kabaddi. It has produced quality players over the years and still continues to be the hotbed of this sport in India.
But how have the Haryana Steelers performed over the years in the Pro Kabaddi League? They started well in their debut season and finished 3rd in the Zone A points table. In the following season, which was PKL 6, Haryana were well below par and finished last in the table.
This season, they showed a lot of promise and stayed in the upper half of the table for most part of the season. But they somehow failed to put the finishing touches.
Here is a brief review of their PKL 7 season:
Played: 23 | Won: 13 | Lost: 9 | Tie: 1 | Total: 71 - Lost the eliminator
Total points scored: 809
Total points conceded: 802
Raid points: 490
Tackle points: 225
All-outs conceded: 28
Overall win percentage: 56.5%
#1 Great raiding pair - Having missed the first few games of the season, Vikash Kandola returned to the squad and instantly showed results. Kandola was magnificent through the season and scored 195 points at an average of 9.5 with 11 Super 10s to his name.
His partner Vinay was terrific as well. He featured in all of Haryana’s 23 games and returned with 129 points. This raiding pair worked wonders for Haryana and helped them take a lead in the race to the playoffs.
#2 Good attacking depth - Haryana had Prashanth Kumar Rai and Naveen as their support raiders. They made crucial contributions in many matches and also served as handy substitutes at times. Together, they scored over 150 points and their inclusion gave Haryana significant depth in the attack.
What did not work?
#1 Brittle defense - Haryana had some good individual performers in their defensive front, but they could not deliver as a unit. Although skipper Dharmaraj Cheralathan scored 46 points this season, he didn’t look 100% fit and was in and out of the team on account of injuries.
Right cover Vikas Kale started really well this season, but he became a big liability near the business end of the tournament. He struggled to get proper grip on the raiders and leaked too many points.
#2 Loss of momentum - In the 118th match of the season, Haryana were handed a crushing defeat by Bengaluru and that robbed them of all the confidence they had. Their defense was completely demolished and that may have given them a major jolt ahead of the playoffs.
As a result, Haryana's momentum was arrested and they couldn’t accelerate during the final stages of the tournament.
Cover defender Ravi Kumar and right corner Sunil looked decent throughout the season. Both of them scored over 50 points and hence could be seen playing for Haryana again.
44-year-old Dharmaraj Cheralathan seemed to lack enough pace and had to skip a few matches due to injury. Although age is just a number, Haryana may want to have someone more agile or add a relatively younger player at the crucial left corner position.
Published 28 Oct 2019, 17:27 IST